Growing Gratitude

Being grateful is easy when we're given something wonderful. I am instantly grateful when my bff brings me a coffee or my Mom sends a thoughtful birthday present. Being grateful is much harder when life brings hardship, strife, and pain. I have always battled with depression but find that the more I focus on being grateful, the less I feel my own emotional pain.

In 2012 I was living in my dream house, working a challenging job, and going to school to further my life goals. Then I became increasingly ill. Headaches, body pain, and fatigue were crippling me and hurting my educational and career goals. I was missing too much work, sleeping instead of living, and unable to do simple chores like mowing the lawn. After a series of doctors and specialists told me there was no underlying/systemic condition I felt defeated. I was 30 and moving like an octagenarian. On a friend's advice, I sought the counsel of a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. I was glad to know that I wasn't crazy but very afraid to have a difficult to treat and impossible to cure illness.

Life fell apart. Within 1 year I had lost my job, sold my house, and relocated from MI to TX to be nearer family support. I was at my lowest point in life and feeling like there wasn't much to look forward to for me. And then a funny thing happened. I became more compassionate. I slowed my life down to better my health. I was a more caring friend and even changed my political and social views. The worst period in my life had helped me grow as a person.

I began once again to focus on GRATITUDE. I knew that being grateful required care and attention. It was a seed that needed nurturing to grow inside of me. I could be bitter that I had lost a well-paid career or I could be grateful for the reduction in stress, lack of commuting, and the ability to focus on my true passions. I could be angry at the doctors who didn't think that I was sick, or thankful for the doctors who were trying their hardest to relieve my pain and suffering. I could choose to feed the growth of gratitude in my heart. I can now help others to seek gratitude also.

Whatever your challenges are there is always an opportunity to still yourself and cultivate gratitude. You will feel lighter, happier, and freer. Others will notice a change in you although they may not be able to put their finger on the cause. It will fortify you to be in a grateful frame of mind when your next battle arises.

Some ways that I remind myself to be grateful:

  • Keep a gratitude Journal and write down something you're grateful for each day.

  • Post inspirational quotes or messages around your home and office.

  • Stop negative thoughts and try to reframe them in a positive way.

  • Surround yourself with others who are grateful and show it in their words and actions.

I know these things are easier said than done but try. If you fail today, try again tomorrow. When you build a habit of being grateful it will improve your outlook on life. Help loved ones to see life through a lens of gratitude also. Don't give up and remember that I am grateful for you my readers!

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